Sk­intight body suits and club beats meet vir­tu­os­ity

The Georgia Straight - - Contents - > JANET SMITH

PRO­GRAM 3 A Bal­let BC pro­duc­tion. At the Queen El­iz­a­beth The­atre on Thurs­day, May 10. No re­main­ing per­for­mances

Sk­intight body suits, scis­sor­ing 2

legs, and rip­pling abs and rhom­boids: these are some of the over­rid­ing im­pres­sions from Bal­let BC’S sea­son-clos­ing pro­gram last week.

The troupe, just back from a smash U.K. and Ger­man tour, is as phys­i­cally honed as it’s ever been—and that could not be more ev­i­dent from the two mus­cu­lar feats that book­ended this triple bill.

The su­per­hu­man pre­ci­sion that went into opener Cayetano Soto’s dark and driv­ing Be­gin­ning Af­ter was on even fuller dis­play this time around than when the piece de­buted in 2016. Dressed in black leather­mesh body suits, the dancers flick­ered through the dark­ness, lung­ing deeply, swiv­el­ling their tor­sos, and slic­ing the air with their arms and legs. Soto carved com­plex move­ment set to Ge­orge Fred­er­ick Han­del’s haunt­ing opera-se­ria arias.

This piece about truth, mem­ory, and dreams let the fiercest, phys­i­cally strong­est dancers show their stuff. Justin Ra­pa­port, in just his sec­ond sea­son with the com­pany, set the mood in­stantly with a pow­er­ful open­ing solo— arms arc­ing, thrust­ing, and screw­ing out from his shoul­ders. Bran­don Al­ley and Livona El­lis pulled off a pun­ish­ing, un­set­tling duet, and Peter Smida folded Kirsten Wick­lund’s legs in and out of splits like bendy straws.

In the evening’s closer, a re­mount of Sharon Eyal and Gai Be­har’s Bill, which Bal­let BC has been hon­ing on the road, the phys­i­cal prow­ess played out in an en­tirely dif­fer­ent, raw, and play­ful way. Dressed in pale body suits so tight they seemed painted on, the dancers com­mit­ted fear­lessly to Eyal’s trade­mark freak-out so­los and puls­ing group work set to club beats.

Scott Fowler and Al­ley tapped their in­ner robo-aliens, cre­at­ing en­tire fan­tasy worlds with their al­ter­nately me­chan­i­cal and rep­til­ian moves. Ab­domens and pelvises re­tract and ex­plode, legs bend into thigh-rip­ping deep pliés, and the piece builds into a throb­bing mass of peo­ple, with the oc­ca­sional in­di­vid­ual spazz­ing out on his own. Don’t let Bill’s odd­ball moves fool you, though: be­neath them, the phys­i­cal and tech­ni­cal de­mands are un­for­giv­ing.

Emily Mol­nar’s new when you left, then, made a brief but med­i­ta­tive break be­tween these two in­tense works. It’s set to the haunt­ing vo­cal­iza­tions of the Phoenix Cham­ber Choir, who con­jure a kind of word­less au­ral magic from the pit. On the dimmed stage, 16 dancers emerge and dis­ap­pear into the dark­ness, like the fleet­ing mem­o­ries that pro­vided in­spi­ra­tion for the piece. It’s a plea­sure to im­merse your­self in the oth­er­worldly vo­cals and strings of Pe­teris Vasks’s Plain­scapes, and to lose your­self in the rest­less, cy­cling, search­ing move­ment of such a full stage of dancers. Ex­tra credit goes to light­ing ge­nius James Proud­foot for en­hanc­ing the mood, his lights low­er­ing and rais­ing and scan­ning the crowd, the way your mind might search for an im­age or an ex­pe­ri­ence.

One of the most suc­cess­ful collaborations Bal­let BC’S un­der­taken, when you left is a re­minder of the power of live mu­sic with dance. And it’s a power that can some­times match all the ath­letic force on-stage.

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